Monday, August 11, 2008

Fundamentals of Online Video: Post 4: Marketing Options

As the video business has exploded, so too have the number of vehicles available with which to leverage video in order to connect and persuade consumers.

I want to emphasize that this post will not provide a complete list of options; rather I am going to focus on the major ways to leverage video -- the ones that are in broad distribution and have the potential to persuade millions.


There are four basic categories here.

Pre-Roll/Mid-Roll/Post-Roll: Ads that appear in the video stream. These are considered the highest value by most advertisers because:

1. The viewing experience most closely approximates TV
2. The audience isn't going anywhere - they are waiting for their desired content to play.
3. Players are often clickable now.

In many cases, advertisers will be offered the option to run tandem banner ads next to a video player in order to improve noticing value, click, and to make their commercial messages more persistent. These generally drive increases in total campaign effectiveness, and many publishers throw them into a buy as bonus.

In Banner Ads: These essentially convert a standard ad placement, like a 300x250, into a video player. Much of the video inventory available today comes in this form. There is, quite simply, a rather finite limit to the amount of pre-roll available, because consuemrs are only seeking so many video plays. With In Banner, more ad units can be converted to quickly expand inventory.

Thus the advantages of In Banner are:

1. Volume. Sites can make more of these than they can offer pre-roll units.
2. Impact: Above the fold video banners, particularly expanding units, can capture the attention of a large percentage of users. For example, the leaderboard of the home pages of many movie sites has become a buy staple for the studios, in shich they can offer an expanding unit with a large format movie trailer.
3. Interactivity: Video banners can generlaly offer much greater user interaction than in stream or pre-roll ads.

Brands planning large scale buys would do well to consider adding a significant portion of in banner ads to their plans to improve efficiency and drive volume.

Overlays: While in the past the distribution of overlays was relatively low, the number of available impressions has grown in recent months. Click rates on these ads are relatively high, though compared to pre-roll, of course, fewer people will see your message because pre-roll offers forced viewing. Many view overlays as the preferred advertising method on UGC or very short form video.

Overlays can take the form of static banners, Flash banners, and recently video overlays -- effectively video-in-video have come forward.

Overlays have the potential to drmatically expand the ad inventory in video because they are green field inventory. Sites can add overlays to their existing video inventory -- theoretically running them ON inventory AFTER pre-roll. Few expect that to be a common occurence, however, as consumer experience would appear to suffer.

Big Ads: A relatively new form of inventory has also been created -- big or full screen ads. Typically, these ads are spawned when a user clicks on an in-banner unit. These full page ads can also, in some cases, offer HD fidelity.

High quality creative showcases very well in a full page interstitial unit. It does require, however, a piece of video creative in the banner that enjoins the user to click for the big picture.


An area that is gaining increased marketer popularity is paid inclusion or product placement. In this category of marketing, the marketer pays to have her product included in a video, or indeed pays to have a special video created in support of the product. There are several key forms of this type of marketing:

Paid inclusion: Here the advertiser pays a producer to somehow integrate their product in content, much as Coke pays American Idol to have cups and logos made part of the show.

Ad contests: Here, the advertiser holds a contest that invites video producers to make an ad for their product. Typically, the producers are given a theme and invited to interpret it in their way, with the winning ad earning the producer several thousand dollars for her trouble.

UGC ad contests: In this scenario, ordinary consumers are asked to make ads for a product, either using existing creative assets or making their own video content. While a popular technique, many companies worry that their brands wioll suffer because of a loss of control. There are cases of this, but far more cases of successful contests. careful planning is necessary to ensure success.

As I said at the beginning of this post, there are many other options, most in limited distribution. But this list of the majors will certainly get you started.

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